To me, the point of Halloween is to remind myself that I’m not immortal. How do I do that? By taking my three kids trick-or-treating in the freezing rain? While that helps, I also play video games. Not just any games, mind you; but horror games, suspense games and games that make me sweat in the dark. The following is a list of some I’ve played that really put me on the edge of my seat.
5. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
OK, this is a true horror game. It’s an FPS (First Person Shooter) that’s not a shooter at all- it’s more like a first person try-and-hide-to-stay-alive. There’s no health bar, no “sanity” bar; only the labored breathing of the protagonist to tell you how close you are to restarting the area. You get weapons, but they do little to stop the baddies who will just roll over you like a relentless ocean tide. The most intensive gaming I’ve ever experienced took place in this game, running from room to room in a dilapidated hotel, unarmed, trying to escape abduction by a small army of screaming fishmen.
4. Amnesia: Dark Descent
If Call of Cthulhu makes me feel weak, Amnesia makes me feel utterly helpless. There are no weapons. Your only resource is to hide wherever you can in a creepy castle, locking doors and stashing yourself in cupboards. The best part of this game is the visual and auditory suggestion…you hardly see the monsters because, if you do, it’s already too late. You mostly hear them scuttling by while looking at the rendered inside of an armoire, stomping their feet and gasping their pitiless moans…
3. Dead Space
Not actually an FPS, this title takes a turn away from the helpless hero by allowing the player to actually (and successfully) attack oncoming hordes of monsters, albeit with makeshift weaponry. What makes this game frightening is the atmosphere: Derelict spacecraft? Check. Moody music and sounds? Check. Visceral monsters? Double check.
Elevated to the point of almost becoming a meme, Slenderman is a game akin to Myst, where you wander around looking for clues to solve some overarching mystery. The difference here is you are being followed by a ghostly, faceless figure who, if you stare at him, will end your game in a loud, sudden blare of static. And you can hear him coming. Every second, you can hear him coming.
With the lights on, Bioshock is fun. With the lights out, it scares the pants off of me. Everything about this setting is creepy: lost underwater, surrounded by insanely murderous and disfigured people (yes, not monsters, people!), and even though I can sling lightning bolts and wield a sub machine gun, I still feel like I can do little to stop them from coming, short of satiating their bloodlust. If any experience can make me jump, it’s Bioshock.
Post in the comments, let me know what your favorite horror/suspense games are! And more importantly, have a Happy Halloween!